Pa. Senate Debate: Trading Barbs and Occasional Policy

Immigration: Amnesty vs. Temporary Worker Program

There wasn't an issue brought to the floor that was immune to politicking. On immigration, Santorum listed border security, an improved employer verification system and the establishment of a temporary worker program as his three priorities.

While Casey did not address specific proposals head-on, he has gone on the record offering to support the Senate bill, which Santorum dismisses as "amnesty." But Casey played off Santorum's enthusiasm for the issue as sheer opportunism.

"What we're seeing now is a candidate in the closing days of a campaign with a lot of new interesting positions," he said. Santorum had "been down in Washington for 16 years, and about 16 weeks ago he discovered an issue that he thought would get him some traction and use this issue in a way that is not moving the ball forward."

Even amid a string of feisty exchanges between the senator and his challenger, Santorum followed up with a line that was almost startling in its frankness.

"One of the reasons I made this an issue in this campaign is it's one of the few things I actually take a position on," he said. "I know you might be shocked that I actually want an issue to be a part of this campaign instead of where my children sleep at night," he continued, referring to the swirling controversy over whether his primary residence is in Pennsylvania or Virginia.

How to Save Social Security

As the debate shifted to domestic issues, Casey cast Santorum's call to privatize Social Security "a scheme that will drain the Social Security trust fund by a trillion dollars," while Santorum summarized Casey's plan as "Do nothing ... his answer is 'grow the economy' and in the next breath he says 'we need to raise taxes.'"

"We've got to make sure we do everything possible to privatization," Casey said.

"Said nothing, again," Santorum shot back.

Closing Arguments, Continuing Debate

In the end, both candidates tried to position themselves as agents of change: Casey, promising a fresh face and a "new direction" for the state, and Santorum, casting himself as a doer who ushered Pennsylvania into the new age.

"On one side you have a candidate of the status quo, stay the course, more of the same," Casey said in his closing statement. "That's Senator Santorum. I represent the position of change, and moving this country in a new direction for middle-class families."

In his closing statement, Santorum tried to paint Casey as someone who had gotten his position in government because of who his father was, the late Gov. Robert Casey.

"I've worked hard for the people of Pennsylvania, and I've worked hard to try to make a difference," he said. "Why? Because I had to earn this job. It's not a job I inherited because of my last name. You know, what matters most to you? Things that were given to you, or things that you worked hard to earn?"

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin works out at Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia, Aug. 30, 2015.
Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images